whoa, it’s almost october!

I realized it was a Wednesday today, and it blew me away. Then, I realized it’s only 9 days until October, the best month of the year.
I’ve been keeping busy with work, school, and trips away from Chicago.

Last weekend brought a fun visit to Columbus, Ohio, home to my Aunt Kelley and cousins as well as Jeni’s Ice Cream shop. My friend Leigh got married to my friend Michael, and it was a great fun ceremony. I made 12 pies, but forgot to take pictures… Banana Creme, Key Lime, and a Plum Tart were the selections. Everyone seemed to like them a lot and it was really fun cooking in my aunt’s kitchen.
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This semester I’m in the cold kitchen, aka Garde Manger. We’re using a great book, which is a good investment for any cook, professional or otherwise. One interesting thing is how we keep decreasing a lot of salt in the recipes. My general experience at culinary school has always involved chef instructors telling me to add more salt! It’s nice to tone it down a bit. Last week we worked on making preserves and I had the chance to test this amazing machine called a Thermomix. I love taking time to make things, but the Thermomix would definitely be nice to have around a kitchen, especially if I needed to whip up something quickly that would usually take a very long time.

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This week we’re smoking and curing meats. I’ve loved the flavor of duck confit for a long time, so it’s really great to have the chance to make it. The picture above is of my disjointed duck legs, after a 12 hour cure. I’ve already rinsed and dried them, so they are ready to be poached in their own fats for the next few hours.

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I assure you, it’s quite an unhealthy snack.

For fun, and since we had a few extra minutes, I made the guys in my group some frites.
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I parcooked the hand cut fries on a baking sheet with parchment paper. Then I fried them up in a mixture of peanut and canola oil. Served with fresh aioli on the side, today was most definitely not the healthiest day at Washburne.

As a side note, I’d really like a convection oven for my house. Things cook so much faster with all that hot air!

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every day you should give yourself a present

I’m having a very Dale Cooper-esque morning, eating pie and drinking strong coffee before heading off to sling brunch.

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Last night I began my experimentation with gluten free pastry crust. The apple galette inspired tart I made was pretty tasty. The crust was nice, but very heavy on the almonds, which did not create the ideal (buttery, flaky, rich, yet light) pastry crust of my dreams. The Xanthan gum is key though, and I am really happy I picked it up. Regardless, the tart was still tasty and I would make it again, but I wouldn’t use the crust unless the filling complimented almonds.

Additionally last night, we had apple-potato soup, concord grape and spinach salad, and braised shortribs over creamy polenta…. GAH, I am so happy it is fall. The apple potato soup was an experiment that worked out pretty well, I’ll post a recipe later.

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little things

After a long week of eating boring sandwiches and too much work/school it is great to come home to a kitchen counter full of apples and a bouquet of flowers*
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thanks gb.

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